After a tremulous year of ups and downs, canceled vacations, virtual events, and working from home, people are starting to get their lives back to normal. Among this return to normal includes the resurgence of in-person conferences and events, ranging from concerts to massive industry expos and more. Without having in-person events for quite some time, you may have forgotten how to prepare for one, with checklists falling to the depths of your notepads and Google Drive. Here’s a conference attendee checklist of things you should do to help you get back to events.
- Get your flight early
Once you’ve decided on the event you want to go to, the first thing on a conference attendee checklist should be the flight. Flights go quickly, prices raise often, and they’re just annoying to plan for in general. Get it over with – even 6 months ahead of time – and get the cheapest, most convenient option you can. Plus, it gives you months to emotionally prepare for a possible 3 am wake-up time.
- Get your hotel early too
Similar to flights, hotel bookings go fast – especially for hotel-based conferences. Lots of people like the convenience of having a hotel attached to or close to an event, so those bookings will go quick. You usually don’t have to pay until you check-in, so it’s a nice thing to also get over with.
- Plan ahead for the week of the conference
A lot happens at a conference. Between sessions, networking, expo halls, and so on, there’s only so much that you can do in a week. You’re likely going to be extra excited and a little scatterbrained so planning ahead is more important than ever. Make a light schedule where you at least cover the most important things that you want to do, like speakers you don’t want to miss, networking sessions you need to attend, etc, and leave room for flexibility and last-minute decisions.
- See if there’s a virtual component
Sure, the point of an in-person event is indeed the in-person component, but a lot of conferences now feature online-only components, making many events moving forward hybrid events. See if there are any unique perks online, such as extra speakers, contests, networking, and so on.
- Find out who else is going
The social aspect is a huge part of conferences and events. You meet new people and see old friends at each one that you go to. It’s likely that some of your friends, colleagues, connections, and LinkedIn contacts are going to these conferences too, so be sure to post online that you’re going and see who’s around to meet up for drinks.
- Decide on your goals ahead of time
Even if a conference takes up the entire week, there likely won’t be enough time to accomplish everything you want to do. Stay tuned to the event organizer’s emails and announcements to hear about the schedule, decide what’s important for you to do, and be sure to leave time for social aspects and coffee breaks. Don’t forget to leave time for expo halls, career expos, and author meet-and-greets if applicable.
- Save room for swag
Remember swag? You know, those shirts, hats, pens, and other random knick-knacks that you’d pick up at conferences? Those will be a thing again with in-person conferences! Bring an extra bag to load up on freebies, or at least leave some room in your suitcase for everything fun that you may pick up.
- Subscribe to company emails
Conference organizers will likely have a lot of updates, especially closer to the event. Whether it involves schedule changes, contests, speaker additions, etc, it’s the easiest way to stay up-to-date with event news, especially since a lot of updates may get lost in the social media shuffle.
- Pay attention to conference policies and COVID-19 guidelines
In-person events are going to be a little different for the foreseeable future. Policies will now involve COVID-19 guidelines based on federal, local, and convention-specific guidelines, such as the use of masks and social distancing. Make sure that you’re aware of those guidelines beforehand and prepare accordingly.
Use this in-person conference attendee checklist for ODSC West 2021
In case you missed it, ODSC West 2021 is going hybrid – meaning there will be both in-person and virtual components for the event this November 16th-18th. Should you be interested in the in-person component of ODSC West 2021, then keep this checklist ready and start doing what you can. Get your ticket early while it’s discounted, plan ahead for flights + hotels, and stay tuned to our email updates as we get closer to the event. We just announced some speakers, and we’ll be continuing to provide updates every week!